Back to normal: A retrospective, cross-sectional study of the multi-factorial determinants of normal birth in Queensland, Australia

Miller, Yvette D., Prosser, Samantha J., & Thompson, Rachel (2015) Back to normal: A retrospective, cross-sectional study of the multi-factorial determinants of normal birth in Queensland, Australia. Midwifery, 31(8), pp. 818-827.

View at publisher



Currently, care providers and policy-makers internationally are working to promote normal birth. In Australia, such initiatives are being implemented without any evidence of the prevalence or determinants of normal birth as a multidimensional construct. This study aimed to better understand the determinants of normal birth (defined as without induction of labour, epidural/spinal/general anaesthesia, forceps/vacuum, caesarean birth, or episiotomy) using secondary analyses of data from a population survey of women in Queensland, Australia.


Women who birthed in Queensland during a two-week period in 2009 were mailed a survey approximately three months after birth. Women (n=772) provided retrospective data on their pregnancy, labour and birth preferences and experiences, socio-demographic characteristics, and reproductive history. A series of logistic regressions were conducted to determine factors associated with having labour, having a vaginal birth, and having a normal birth.


Overall, 81.9% of women had labour, 66.4% had a vaginal birth, and 29.6% had a normal birth. After adjusting for other significant factors, women had significantly higher odds of having labour if they birthed in a public hospital and had a pre-existing preference for a vaginal birth. Of women who had labour, 80.8% had a vaginal birth. Women who had labour had significantly higher odds of having a vaginal birth if they attended antenatal classes, did not have continuous fetal monitoring, felt able to ‘take their time’ in labour, and had a pre-existing preference for a vaginal birth. Of women who had a vaginal birth, 44.7% had a normal birth. Women who had a vaginal birth had significantly higher odds of having a normal birth if they birthed in a public hospital, birthed outside regular business hours, had mobility in labour, did not have continuous fetal monitoring, and were non-supine during birth.


These findings provide a strong foundation on which to base resources aimed at increasing informed decision-making for maternity care consumers, providers, and policy-makers alike. Research to evaluate the impact of modifying key clinical practices (e.g., supporting women׳s mobility during labour, facilitating non-supine positioning during birth) on the likelihood of a normal birth is an important next step.

Impact and interest:

0 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

5 since deposited on 27 Apr 2015
3 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 83787
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Childbirth, Caesarean section, Normal birth, Patient-reported data, Informed decision-making, Maternity care
DOI: 10.1016/j.midw.2015.04.005
ISSN: 0266-6138
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified (111799)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Midwifery. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Midwifery, [VOL 31, ISSUE 8, (2015)] DOI: 10.1016/j.midw.2015.04.005
Deposited On: 27 Apr 2015 22:31
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2016 18:40

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page